Fast Not

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on December 18, 2014 · 0 comments

Intermittent fasting is a diet trend that many are trying. Limiting food to just 8 hours a day, severely restricting calories a few days a week, or fasting on certain days and feasting on others are popular approaches. For many, especially women, these dieting practices often trigger intense cravings, preoccupation with food, and rebound binge eating. The practice rarely results in significant weight loss. Fasting also interferes with your normal sleep cycle making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. This saps daytime energy and your ability to stay alert.

The goal of any diet is to get rid of body fat. Fasting does not break down your fat reserves because your metabolism is pretty complex. You regularly burn a combination of fat and carbohydrate to fuel your body’s needs. After about 6 hours of not eating, when your stores of carb are running low, your body begins to convert lean tissue (muscles) into carb to use as fuel. The amount of muscle you lose during a fast depends on how long you go without food. But if your goal while fasting is to reduce body fat that rarely happens.

If you are determined to try fasting, when you eat, make every mouthful count by eating lean protein, veggies, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. Bingeing on pizza, chips and ice cream as a reward for not eating isn’t the best approach.

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